Guernica Magazine

Kelly Sundberg: The Most Painful Things Anyone’s Ever Said To You

The writer on her new memoir about abuse, insidious forms of control, and the gendered expectations of forgiveness. The post Kelly Sundberg: The Most Painful Things Anyone’s Ever Said To You appeared first on Guernica.
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Like many readers, I held my breath as Kelly Sundberg recounted one of the most painful moments of her life in her essay, “It Will Look Like a Sunset,” named after the healing process she was told to expect for the bruises her ex-husband left on her body. The popularity of her essay landed her an agent and a book deal. The result, Goodbye Sweet Girl (HarperCollins), follows the trajectory of Sundberg’s early relationship and marriage to the man who became her abuser.

Intimate partner violence is a heartbreakingly common experience. Sundberg writes about her relationships with lyricism and a stunning emotional honesty. She investigates critical moments from her childhood and past relationships to illuminate the trajectory that brought her to this relationship. She reveals both his broken humanity and his sickening manipulation. The result is a stunning portrait of what it’s like to live inside the signature abuse cycle of love, violence, attraction, pain, and dependency. Goodbye Sweet Girl makes no excuse for its abuser, but reveals how abusers (like rapists) often cover their monstrous brutality by appearing charming.

Kelly Sundberg’s essays have appeared in , and others. “It Will Look Like a Sunset” was selected for inclusion in . Sundberg has a PhD in creative nonfiction from Ohio University and has been the recipient of fellowships or grants from Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own

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